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Three's Company
By Liz Langley, AlterNet. Posted April 14, 2006.

What the heck is polyamory, and is it a legitimate way to sustain a romantic relationship? Tools
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Polyamory is more than just an excellent drag name. It's the state of being openly in love with more than one person, or having more than one love relationship simultaneously. Kind of like polygamy without the marriage part.

Thanks to HBO's new series "Big Love," which features a Utah polygamist with three wives, romantic multitasking is getting viewed with a fresh new eye. Honestly, I think a lot of people are in polyamorous relationships. It's just that one member of the group doesn't know about it yet -- they're called "affairs."

I mentioned this theory to Janet Kira Lessin, president and CEO of the World Polyamory Association, and she thinks it's just about right. "Our society suffers from pluralistic ignorance. We're doing one thing while professing another," she says."Polyamory is just another offshoot of people who are sick and tired of having to lie."

Janet and her husband, Sasha, a psychotherapist, both do relationship and polyamory counseling and teach tantra in Maui. Married since 1997, Janet says, "[Sasha] and I are primaries," meaning they have priority among whoever else they bring into the relationship. "We dated this other couple for four years and that was just incredible," she says. The other pair had to leave Maui for reasons not related to the relationship. "It was like breaking up," Janet says, a little wistful at the thought. But life goes on. "We have another single fellow that we're starting to date right now."

I've never tried polyamory myself, but have always been curious about it for lots of reasons. Maybe it's because I'm an American, and I think more is better. Second, I've far too often been plagued by this quandary: Do I date the one who is safe, comfortable and good? Or the one who's so hot my jeans catch fire? Polyamory seems like it would eliminate that conundrum.

I'm not entirely joking. Are people really like dinner courses at Joan Crawford's house: You can't have the next one until you're totally finished with the first?

"People in monogamous relationships are sometimes afraid to share their thoughts," Janet says. Been there. But if we tried, would the world really end? Or could we come to terms with other attractions and affections so they woudn't have to mean the end of a good thing, the foregoing of an also-good thing or a potential deception?

Never having tried polyamory, I don't know if I could handle it or not. "You [need] to have a willingness to look at jealousy and see what it really is," says Janet, who was in two traditional marriages (the first ended in abuse) before trying polyamory in 1991. "Are you feeling envy? Are you feeling abandoned? What is jealousy for you?"

"Yes, I have experienced being jealous in this lifestyle," she says, but she has a community where she can talk about it. Another thing about polyamory is that typical relationship processes are accelerated. "If you have baggage, you're going to have it shown to you by more than one person," she says. You "get busted on your shit" more quickly.

I admire Janet's guts for trying it. At the moment, for me to worry about handling multiple partners would be like practicing my Oscar speech because I got on the 7-11 store cam. Since I don't have one steady partner, wondering about two seems a little premature.

But it's an interesting thought -- especially now, when traditional marriage seems to be going through a bit of an identity crisis. You have gay couples wanting to get married, and you know they're going to do it better than straight people (please see couture, design, dinner parties, manners and every other civilizing element of society).

Then there's the divorce rate -- which, according to Erika Lawrence, director of the UI Center for Marital and Family Studies, "has remained stable at 40 percent over the last 10 to 15 years" for first marriages, while it "hovers around 66 percent" for second and third timers. If cars didn't work 40 percent to 66 percent of the time, people would start hang-gliding to work.

So it seem less surprising that people might be looking for a new way to couple (or triple or quadruple). I don't know if America is ready for polyamory, but as Janet points out, people used to smoke everywhere, and now nobody does. There's lag time for things to change, but change they do.

And she seems pretty happy. "I did something right in my life to come to this place," she says. "My life has been magical."

Liz Langley is a freelance writer in Orlando, Fla.


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Do your homework...
Posted by: Louisa on Apr 14, 2006 1:08 AM    [Report this comment]
This article is misguided at best. I feel as if the writer hasn't talked to anyone actually in the lifestyle or she would never have confused ideas like serial monogamy (what most people do) or "cheating" with the idea of polyamory.

I am not into it myself, I just know enough about polyamory to know that honesty is rule number one and that it is no small thing. Frankly, if people were generally more honest with themselves and each other, other types of romantic relationships might do better and thereby avoid becoming a part of the divorce/breakup statistics.

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RE: Do your homework... Posted by: Samantha Vimes
Posted by: Uncle Tupelo on Apr 14, 2006 4:46 AM    [Report this comment]
Pardon me if I don't find this at all appealing. I got married so I could get out of the dating scene and settle down with and build my life around and hopefully grow old with one beautiful woman I love very much. That to me (and I suspect most people) sounds a lot better than basically being single again and having an unending series of superficial relationships with semi-strangers who are interested in little more than sex.

No thanks.

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RE: Ugh Posted by: Orwells_nightmare
Wooohooo! Posted by: chasaturn
Posted by: janiepoe on Apr 14, 2006 6:09 AM    [Report this comment]
this is just another threat on womens rights! women you better wake up!

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RE: poe Posted by: zedaker
RE: poe Posted by: Charaud
RE: poe Posted by: lauramurphy
Polyamorous "couples"
Posted by: nosylae on Apr 14, 2006 6:10 AM    [Report this comment]
One of my good friends that I've known for almost 15 years is in polyamorous relationships. She has been with one person, a man for over 10 years and she has been in another long term relationship with a women for more than two years. I know her boyfriend is polyamorous with only other women and does not date (or have sex with) my friend's girlfriends. Their lifestyle is not about having superficial sex with people they hardly know - it is about being open and honest with themselves and their multiple partners. Of all the people I know, they probably have the healthiest long term relationship.

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Posted by: zedaker on Apr 14, 2006 6:22 AM    [Report this comment]
it seems to me that the issue all comes down to freedom to define your own family. sex is only a peripheral component of the underlying debate. why can one man and one woman "decide" to be a family but two men, or two women, or 1 man and 2 women, or 1 woman and 2 men cannot? it's a bit like saying a business partnership may only consist of two partners. no one would dream of imposing that limitation on private business decisions so why do we do it to infinitely more important family decisions.
todays marriage laws have little to do with traditional religious strictures and everything to do with legal structures about lines of descent and inheritance (the term "illegitimate child" is completely nonsensical, no child is ever illegitimate!). our legal system is more than sophisticated enough to deal with poly-amory/gamy now and i think we should acknowledge and accept a person's individual right to determine his/her own family.
this in no way affects any person's right to have a one on one love/marriage family. it does recognize that everyone has rights to define family for themselves.

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RE: family? Posted by: RobertVermeers
RE: family? Posted by: constantreader
Can a man handle more than one woman?
Posted by: pushing50 on Apr 14, 2006 6:32 AM    [Report this comment]
I have read somewhere that traditional Islamic teaching counsels that a second wife should be committed to only if the husband is able to FULLY satisfy all the needs (financial, practical, intellectual, emotional and SEXUAL) of both women. This same piece of writing also pointed out that the last man to really be able to handle such a challenge was the prophet himself. If a religious tradition often chided for its treatment of women includes this caution, doesn't that give us a clue? Viagra and Taoist sexual practices are not enough to make up for the natural disparity between a healthy woman's drive and the capacity of most men.
Yes, one can have sexual feelings for more than one person, and men, especially, are prone to this distraction, but it is, by definitiion, impossible to give one's "all" to more than one person. Someone is going to be shortchanged. Now, if we re-define marriage or relationship as sort of a neutral, arm's length arrangement wherein it doesn't matter whether important thoughts or events are shared, wherein, as the leprechaun in Finian's Rainbow suggests, we "fondle the hand at hand" or something along those lines, then we can manage multiples. But it is a major strain. I commend to everyone a review in the New Yorker of recent re-examinations of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, suggesting in the light of more currently available documents that the flavor of "polyamory" they practised was rather a perverse way of hurting others and then laughing about it together in private. I myself have been on both sides of a divided love, and it is equally painful to be the one splitting one's love between two people, as to be the one who is having to make do with half of someone's heart.

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another tragic example of the individual laziness
Posted by: bumpy on Apr 14, 2006 6:34 AM    [Report this comment]
monogamous relationships are not intended to be easy. it is hard work being committed to and loving one person. life and love is not about how easily one can get off, how convenient it would be to have a "safe person" in the kitchen and a "hot person" in the bed. PEOPLE WAKE UP!!! this is the issue that is behind all the screwed up ways our world works today. don't do what might be difficult or uncomfortable, but that would help you grow into a stronger, more beautiful and loving person, but look for the simple, quick way to get your "needs" met. It's sickening, ridiculous, and another reason I do n't feel that I belong in the world with all these crazy, lazy scum.

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Polyamory vs. extramarital affairs
Posted by: medstudgeek on Apr 14, 2006 7:26 AM    [Report this comment]
Polyamory is the simultaneous maintenance of more than one romantic relationship, where all partners know this is the case.

An extramarital affair usually involves hiding the truth from the spouse; you could argue if the spouse knew and accepted the situation it would become polyamory. I understand this is most commonly done in some gay male couples which will bring in a third man for the pleasure of both partners.

Quite frankly given the current political climate I don't think this is a crusade to bring up right now. Even gay marriage is costing us elections. Maybe in San Francisco.

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slavery vs. freedom Posted by: cthullhu
RE: slavery vs. freedom Posted by: owleyes
RE: slavery vs. freedom Posted by: cthullhu
RE: slavery vs. freedom Posted by: owleyes
Posted by: Lizmv on Apr 14, 2006 7:31 AM    [Report this comment]
A subject many are uncomfortable with!
I have been in 2 long term relationships at the same time for the past 4 years. One man is 20 years younger than me ( 7 years) and the other is 10 years older 4 years). They each know about the other. we do not live together. The young man is single and sometimes dates other women nearer his age ( he'd like to marry and have kids someday, something I am past) and the older is married.
I think all 3 of us are deficient in a normal amount of jealousy. I have no desire to live with a man right now. That may change someday, should I meet the right one but who knows.
I never planned it this way. It's just how life worked out for us. There are those who judge us pretty harshly though, for not fitting ourselves into rigid cultural norms.

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you are not in love Posted by: owleyes
RE: you are not in love Posted by: cthullhu
RE: you are not in love Posted by: owleyes
Yay polyamory!
Posted by: oneMan on Apr 14, 2006 7:50 AM    [Report this comment]
I'm glad to see polyamory actually getting somewhat widespread attention. There's nothing wrong with monogamy it just shouldn't be viewed as the only feasible option. For people interested I highly reccomend Robert Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land". Although it is fiction, Heinlein does a good job of exploring what polyamory done right could be. For people interested in honesty polyamory is definitely something to look into. However, if you're the jealous type or a one woman/man type of person monogomy is still a tried and tested method. Yay options!

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RE: Yay polyamory! Posted by: Moosehead
RE: Yay polyamory! Posted by: cthullhu
RE: Yay polyamory! Posted by: dbarber
I'll take the secret affair, thanks
Posted by: owleyes on Apr 14, 2006 8:26 AM    [Report this comment]
I think affairs on the DL are a better option, frankly, because at least with those there is a recognition of the dangerous business you're really getting into, and if you are a decent person and do it right, your spouse does not have to find out and you can avoid inflicting a horrible wound on him or her. Extramarital affairs and polyamory both boil down to using other people for one's own pleasure. Polyamory only tries to make infidelity okay by denying that the pain it causes is legitimate. Polyamory says, hey, if you're in a polyamorous relationship and you don't just love having intimate contact with all the penises and vaginas you can handle, then there you must have some wierd puritanical hangups that you would do well to get over. Who wants their entire existence sexualized by identifying with a group whose sole unifying factor is wanting to have unrestrained sex with a multiplicity of people? Besides, I love my husband, so I don't need anybody else.

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decent? Posted by: cthullhu
decent relative Posted by: cthullhu
RE: I'll take the secret affair, thanks Posted by: constantreader
wow.. I am amazed AND appalled
Posted by: lauramurphy on Apr 14, 2006 9:05 AM    [Report this comment]
by the comments, not the article... The author freely offers her shortcomings on understanding and experience, but many of the commenters feel free to judge something they do not understand.

Polyamory is about the heart not the body....

Hearts need honesty and trust and respect. There is nothing respectful about enabling a person's insecurities or robbing them of their ability to make informed choices. Cheating does both.

And loving more than one person does not mean that one doesn't love their husband, their wife, GF, BF, etc. It mean that you love them both. My husband and I have been practicing polyamorists for over 6 years now and contradictory to public perception we love each other MORE for it, not less. It takes a greater commitment to each other to live this path, not less. It is more work and we know each other and ourselves better, not less. Remember all those bad dates, those times when a relationship didn't work out, or you had your heart broken? Imagine it is your spouse who hold your hand and tells you that you are loved and that it will all be okay. I think of my marriage as my home-but it is not a place to hide from my heart or my insecurities. My husband deserves so much better than that and so do I.

Even more amazing.. Imagine falling in love with a person, having them return the sentiment, and the first person you want to share that with is your husband-because you know that he will celebrate it with you! I have that kind of love in my life and more.

Cheating is a cowardly way to conduct one's affairs, pun intended. Cheaters never have to confront how selfish they are, how insecure they are, how manipulative, controlling they are. I equate cheating with thievery because it robs everyone involved of an honest experience. The highest form of love cannot thrive in those circumstances-no matter how you justify it. I've lived both sides of that equation and it robbed me and the people involved of our love our self-respect.

I find it incredulous-and more than a little sad-that we so easily accept the limitations placed on our hearts and minds where love is concerned. Love is, by definition (by my understanding that is) expansive. Why would one try and limit that unless one has a misundertanding/misconception about the nature of love?

All that said, I want to add that polyamory isn't for everyone anymore than anything else is. It's simply another expression of the heart, another style of relating.

And, because people ask me this all the time... I do not have any more sex in my life than I did before we opened our hearts to others. Your mileage may vary of course ;)

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amazed AND impressed Posted by: cthullhu
amazed AND appalled Posted by: cthullhu
RE: wow.. I am amazed AND appalled Posted by: constantreader
oops... Posted by: lauramurphy
There's nothing new under the sun, except maybe iPods.
Posted by: Mutternich on Apr 14, 2006 9:09 AM    [Report this comment]
Or perhaps I'm being too dismissive. Maybe I should ask, "Is there ever anything new under the sun?"

Anyone remember "open marriage" from the '70s? (The therapist couple who wrote the book with that title divorced not many years afterwards.)

So, is there anything about this?

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You don't know me
Posted by: Lizmv on Apr 14, 2006 9:18 AM    [Report this comment]
I do love both men and we have very romantic relationships.
I do think that there is a change that is maybe physical when a woman is past the baby stage of life. The way I feel about the world in general has changed drastically since I turned 40 (now 52).
Love is not something I choose to reserve for a single human being. I choose to have a life filled with as much love as possible.

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RE: You don't know me Posted by: owleyes
Real polyamory is not cheating
Posted by: LRayn on Apr 14, 2006 9:20 AM    [Report this comment]
Real polyamory is about loving committments to more than one partner -- NOT cheating, affairs, one night stands, or even open marriages with a "don't ask, don't tell" arrangement. It's not about laziness or greed, either.

In a polyamorous relationship, all the partners may or may not be involved with each other. The central theme is that everything is "above board" and negotiated between ALL the participants.

I am a bisexual woman. Currently, I am married to a man, who I love dearly, but I am in the process of thinking about a polyamorous relation involving a woman.

Learn more about what this lifestyle is and isn't at

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The Poly Closet
Posted by: hbw on Apr 14, 2006 9:55 AM    [Report this comment]
Don't mistake this comment for expert analysis, but...

Look, folks, there are grains of truth in all these comments pro and con. But there's more to polyamory than sexual convenience.

I don't know whether I'm technically poly or not. I do know that I can love my wife and another woman at the same time. If my wife decided to take up with another man, that would be her choice, and if she should neglect her share of the domestic duties because of it, that would be worse to me than the adultery. Hell, I have deeper objections to her World of Warcraft habit for that very reason.

Anyway, 14 points for your consideration:

1. Monogamy is wonderful, nurturing, certainly to be celebrated.

2. However, not everyone is monogamous by nature.

3. Polyamory can be just as wonderful and nurturing, with the drawback that you sometimes have to explain it to neighbors who just don't understand.

4. Monogamy is a societal imposition. Cultures throughout history have practiced other familial structures, from the polyandry of the ancient Gauls to the more autonomous, communal approaches in parts of Africa and Polynesia.

5. Polyamorous tendencies may be something in your genetic code, just like your position on the sexuality spectrum.

6. As with gays and Lesbians, there is a kind of "closet" associated with polyamorous feelings and practices. How comfortable would you be telling your co-workers about your two spouses or significant others? What about "coming out" to your parents, or indeed your current spouse?

7. If you're having an adulterous affair, and you feel worse about the cover-up than the affair itself, you may be a polyamorist. (Spoken from personal experience!)

8. Poly people can be anywhere on the spectrum. Until recently there was a tetrad in my UU church: two married couples, the wives of whom were also romantically involved with each other. They had five wonderful children amongst them, and all nine somehow lived in the same suburban home.

9. Many practicing polys prefer the term "polyfidelity," placing more emphasis on the fact that they do not stray outside the multi-partner relationship. Like "polyamory," it's an awkward mash of Greek and Latin roots, but "polyphily" or "polyagapism" is would be even clunkier.

10. Polyamorists insist that their practice is more about love and honesty than sex, just as homo- and bi-sexuality are about different ways of loving (i.e., not just getting one's rocks off).

11. That said, they acknowledge that sexuality is a bigger component of our personalities than perhaps we know, and that repressing that component is not healthy.

12. Polygamy in the Islamic world (or Latter Day Saints) does indeed include the stipulation that the husband must be able to provide for any and all wives and children. Sexist? Maybe, but consider the context. Polyamory in 21st-century America means that all members of the relationship can contribute to the financial and emotional well-being of the group.

13. America at large is absolutely not ready for polyamory as a phenomenon, which is why families and advocates are laying the groundwork to change that attitude--the sooner, the better. It wasn't long ago that the majority of Americans couldn't deal with the presence of GLBT folks at all; Matthew Shepard's killers might have been looked upon as folk heroes when I was a kid. Things are not perfect now, but America is a better place when my gay friends can appear as couples in public.

14. As someone else said here, this article just wasn't that well written or researched. I've seen better explorations of polyamory in the lifestyle sections of mainstream papers. But it is important to acknowledge that a segment of our population lives and loves this way, actively or otherwise.

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RE: The Poly Closet Posted by: medstudgeek
RE: The Poly Closet Posted by: lauramurphy
Be true to your heart
Posted by: Blue Heron on Apr 14, 2006 10:13 AM    [Report this comment]
Well, I won't take a moralistic slant on this as I'm sure there are plenty that have. I guess looking at it in more simple terms, I'd say it makes sense that a love shared is a love divided. That's very basic, but I have to say that I have always been happier having my partner be there for me 100% rather than 50% or even 25%. I don't know if that's possessive or not, but in the past when parnters have cheated on me (and I didn't always have a smoking gun) I've sensed them pulling away from me and getting aloof and distant. And for me, nothing hurts more, whether I know about it or not. I think we sometimes get really cerebral in discussing relationship matters, which is not all that intelligent really, as the heart knows no logic. Perhas we rationalize these things to feel less hurt/ jealous. Then again, heart chakra energy has been absent from society/ the planet for a while now. All people seem to be concerned with at the moment is butchering each other and rationalizing brutality.

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RE: Be true to your heart Posted by: agahran
RE: Be true to your heart Posted by: ktylove
Legality schmegality
Posted by: pagandenman on Apr 14, 2006 10:18 AM    [Report this comment]
Reading thru the comments, which are at least as interesting as the article itself, I'm reminded of a few neat things. One commenter refers to seeking legal recognition of poly status, another refers to living in the U.S. and that "more is better". And I am reminded of a comment from a friend of mine who is gay. He remarked that he wasn't particularly interested in being recognised by the government or society.

I agree with him.

I don't care if bible thumping zealots agree with my lifestyle choices. It is illegal to marry more than one person in the U.S., you can have sex with anyone you want, you can love anyone you want, you can legally write a will and leave property to anyone you wish, with legal assistance you can pass your children on to other folks though sometimes with a fight from blood relatives, but it CAN be done. I really don't care if someone dissaproves of me loving the two great loves of my life. It's really none of their business. I do live in the west and there is a great feeling that most things are acceptable as long as you don't throw it in someone's face and make them publically accept it. Live and let live has a great tradition in our world, and it is a good grease for individuality. I do understand that folks might well want "official" acceptance of their lifestyle choices, more power to them. I just don't think it's going to be forthcoming in a society that elects a evangelical christian president, who then appoints a conservative supreme court. I think the future of polyamory rests in accepting who one is and what they want and finding the way to make it work. Hey, no one obeys the speed limit either, but I don't see a mass movement to change the speed limit or turn stop signs into yield signs.

Yield to the signs of the times, just don't expect the signmakers to yield to you.

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me too, and..
Posted by: lauramurphy on Apr 14, 2006 11:02 AM    [Report this comment]
"but in the past when parnters have cheated on me (and I didn't always have a smoking gun) I've sensed them pulling away from me and getting aloof and distant"

I've been there too. It hurts beyond my ability to convey. Polyamory is different because it is the deceipt that drives that pulling away... Our secrets make us sick not our love and our honesty...

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American pathology
Posted by: ceti on Apr 14, 2006 11:20 AM    [Report this comment]
It seems a distinctly an American tendency to sexualize any deep and abiding relationship, rather than let it stand on its own. Thus it can be argued that polyamory is an extreme reaction to the pathological nuclear family that itself is divorced from notions of community.

Besides, I'm not sure if I want to call my partner, "my darling prime." What do you call your secondary? No. 2? Too science fictiony for my tastes.

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I don't like being called a wife either :)
Posted by: lauramurphy on Apr 14, 2006 11:24 AM    [Report this comment]
but, since you asked, I call her my girlfriend

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MMF + FFM or Twins?
Posted by: Prismagirl3 on Apr 14, 2006 11:44 AM    [Report this comment]
Has everyone forgot about the all exciting threesome? I can barely flip though a mens magazine, watch music videos or look online without running through some sexual content that involves threesomes. This has become a staple of pop culture and young men are encouraged that two women are better than one. Even if its not in the context of marriage or long term commitment.

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RE: MMF + FFM or Twins? Posted by: cephalis
doug ogilvie
Posted by: dogilvie on Apr 14, 2006 1:28 PM    [Report this comment]
Polyamory was practised by Jesus, Mary Magdalene and their inner circle of jewish gnostics

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RE: doug ogilvie Posted by: owleyes
RE: doug ogilvie Posted by: morticia
It's nice to see that...
Posted by: midge on Apr 14, 2006 3:37 PM    [Report this comment] a world that seems increasingly cold, materialistic, and selfish, a lot of the people commenting here about the polyamory movement embrace such timeless, transcendental values such as love, honesty, commitment, and forgiveness, and if the movement really does embrace such values as well and is antithetical to selfishness and materialism as some have said, then that's wonderful and refreshing.

That being said, I can understand the reservations people have toward it, particularily towards its capacity to be misused (I especially understand people's concern for shy, socially awkward people-I understand the difficulties these people face because I'm one of them, although I've been exteremly lucky...). Unfortunately though, seems like every type of relationship can and has been misused :-(

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Polyamory: exhausting! from morvoren
Posted by: Morvoren on Apr 14, 2006 8:41 PM    [Report this comment]
I have know a whole bunch of polyamorous people over the years... in some cases it seemed reasonably healthy; in other's on the surface it was lovely, at bottom, some woman lost out usually. But the main feeling I had from some of the most successful threesomes and moresomes I met, was how exhausting it seemed. It was like adolescence. They were always "dealing" with their relationship. They were constantly "working" at these relationships, and there was all kinds of sexual tension... the great thing about being an old married couple is the deep homey comfort of not having to be "on" all the time, the world is a crazy enough place not to want some place at home that is warm, safe and comfortable - where you don't have to work at being and doing. One other thing: I have a sense that at least in some cases, the men involved were, I am guessing, way down deep, scared out of their minds to be, heavens help us, alone, even for one night.

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exhausting.. yeah, sometimes :)
Posted by: lauramurphy on Apr 15, 2006 7:59 AM    [Report this comment]
There is a line of thinking amongst some poly people I know that polys have a higher tolerance for excitement and drama (in a good way- recall many worthy things in life are exciting and dramatic).

In the early days of our poly exploration and discovery, it seemed like we never slept-we were always talking and negotiating. Our lives are much more peaceful and easy now that we have a better understanding of ourselves and each other. We tend to spend more time having a life with each other now than talking about it, but .. I had to laugh when I read your comment because I remember a time when that wasn't the case. And yes.. it was alot like the high drama of high school-another time of major transition, lol!

Today, the three of us are just as likely to rent a movie and my GF sit around and crochet!

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Posted by: lauramurphy on Apr 15, 2006 8:08 AM    [Report this comment]
I don't know where the word came from, but the concept of compersion is that of being happy for another person's happiness.

The scenario you described has happened just as you described it. It doesn't occur to us to feel like a "backup" at all. We're in it-all-together, for better or worse, remember?

I understand how hard it must be to wrap one's head around this, but it had been one of the most beautiful and liberating transformations. I had to work pretty hard to overcome the conditioning of my upbringing that said "one person, one love, one relationship, etc", but I sincerely set about to challenge my own insecurities to live what I knew in my heart to be true. A life celebrating each other's loves is a life I want for everyone, monogamous, polyamorous regardless.

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Posted by: lauramurphy on Apr 15, 2006 8:10 AM    [Report this comment]
see comment labeled "compersion".

I hit the wrong link and disordered this thread. :)

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Posted by: morticia on Apr 15, 2006 11:37 AM    [Report this comment] hard-wired into us as a species. Inventing a cute fancy name like "polyamory" isn't gonna neutralize the green-eyed monster.

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RE: Jealousy.... Posted by: lauramurphy
RE: Jealousy.... Posted by: morticia
RE: Jealousy.... Posted by: constantreader
"Poly" folly
Posted by: vand on Apr 16, 2006 3:06 AM    [Report this comment]
I can't resist commenting that my recent experience with a group of "poly" wannabees was heartbreaking. There may be exceptions somewhere, but these folks were truly pathetic...neurotic, toxically self-involved, immature and truly deluded. The "inconvenient " children were at serious risk and the women were expendable as well as emotionally shallow and completely out of touch with reality. Grotesque...yes that's the word...grotesque.

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RE: "Poly" folly Posted by: lauramurphy
The hunger for universal imperatives....
Posted by: jontv on Apr 16, 2006 12:33 PM    [Report this comment]
Every time AlterNet posts an article like this, the response is always fascinating. I would guess that the vast majority of people who read this site are proponents of the right to choose, sexual pleasure for consenting adults, and gay rights -- and on the sexual freedom side of any number of other "moral" battle lines. And yet when faced with a relatively new choice that people feel uncomfortable with, personally, so many make declarations about how relationships, presumably all of them, should be.

I have never been involved in polyamory, but I do imagine that under the right circumstances, with the right people, it could be a great, perfectly workable way to live and love. I am married to someone who is solidly insistent on monogamy, and I accept that. I have always known she felt that way, and I have no desire to change her mind. I knew what I was agreeing to.

I don't feel my life is lacking for only having one sexual partner, and I don't expect I ever will. But neither do I feel a need to justify my choice with assumptions that it is the only way for people to relate to each other.

I don't want to be too hard on prescriptivists, though. I think that matters like love and sex are dealing with forces so strong in us that they scare us and make it hard to imagine other people might experience them differently. This fearful need to channel and normalize powerful impulses may be where religion and what we call "morality" come from in the first place. Just try to remember what we tell the fundamentalists: how other people choose to relate to each other is no threat to your own moral viewpoint unless you choose let it be.

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